Reanimated: Senate gambling bill, with changes, back in play


A strike-all amendment planned for the Senate’s 2018 gambling bill will add an authorization for slot machines in counties where voters OK’d them in local referendums, Senate President-designate Bill Galvano said Thursday.

The Senate bill (SB 840) is now slated for consideration before the Appropriations Committee Friday. Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, is the Senate’s lead negotiator on gambling for the Legislative Session.

“We’ll also have some contraction of (gambling) licenses,” he said. “And then some limitation on the number of slots, contracting from what is already authorized, so that there’s a balance. We’re still talking about a number, but it will be a contraction.”

Speaker Richard Corcoran has previously said this year that any legislation the House agrees to must be “an absolute contraction” of gambling in the state—though he hasn’t specifically defined that term.

A “Voter Control of Gambling” constitutional amendment is on the November ballot, requiring a statewide OK for any new or added gaming in the state. If it gets 60 percent approval, the Legislature will be indefinitely shut out from influencing gambling.

The latest proposal also would satisfy Senate President Joe Negron, who favors granting slots to pari-mutuels in “referendum” counties,” saying the Legislature should respect the will of the people.

Those extra slots weren’t in the previous versions of the Senate bill and are not in the House measure (HB 7067).

“I have always been clear those referendums that took place were not done pursuant to state law; in fact, they were done in spite of state law,” Galvano said. “Nonetheless, he (Negron) has been a proponent of that, so we are putting that issue in play.”

The Seminole Tribe also may be softening its position on games that it feels threaten its exclusivity to offer certain games in the state, he added.

“They continue to have an interest in getting something together,” Galvano said. “Their last offer was really not very impressive.”

A draft agreement that the Tribe reportedly shared with legislators suggests it would be willing to back down on its opposition to the state expressly allowing fantasy sports play and continued play of designated-player games, a hybrid of poker and blackjack offered in pari-mutuel cardrooms.

The Seminoles’ current deal with the state allows it to reduce or cut off payments to the state, expected to reach over $300 million next year, if other games are played that it believes impinges on any of its exclusive gambling rights.

The House will next consider its bill on the floor Friday. Galvano said he hopes the two chambers can get into conference over gaming legislation no later than next Wednesday. The Session ends next Friday.

“Chair (José) Oliva and I continue to have conversations,” Galvano said. “We are, in concept, together on the idea that we need to solidify our relationship with the Tribe.” Oliva, the Speaker-designate and a Miami Lakes Republican, is the House gaming negotiator.

Both chambers now are behind a renewed 20-year deal with the Tribe for $3 billion in revenue over seven years in return for exclusive rights to blackjack, and to slot machines outside South Florida.

Galvano said future money from the Seminoles could be used to “backfill” recurring costs for public school safety and campus ‘hardening’ being considered in the wake of the deadly school shooting at Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The Senate also exempts thoroughbred horse tracks and jai alai frontons from decoupling, which allows a pari-mutuel to stop live racing but keep offering other gambling, such as slots. The bill still allows for greyhound-racing decoupling, however.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Michael

    March 1, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    The Seminoles last offer was to allow the designated player games and fantasy sports for a loss of $250 million a year to the State. The means the Seminoles would cut the $3 billion by $1.75 billion for 7 years leaving the State with only $1.25 billion total which is puts the State at a loss from the previous deal. Good move by the Seminoles.

    • Eric Keaton

      March 2, 2018 at 2:04 am

      Good move by the Seminoles.?! Its the state that seems to keep that foot in its mouth. How many more losing lawsuits will Florida Voters endure before the state busts and the Seminole end up with what they simply asked for in the very beginning.? All they want is a good relationship with Florida and to be a Class IV entity in the gaming industry. How hard can that be.? Seeing as how in the end thats exactly whats going to happen for them anyway. Florida won’t have many more promises to break before the Seminole lose faith in Floridas legislature – thats for sure.

  • Joey

    March 1, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    The Seminoles are pulling the wool of the citizens of Florida. They pay sh…tttt in taxes compared to real gaming operators. Let’s ask MGM or Las Vegas Sands how much they would pay to have a monopoly on every aspect of gambling in Florida. 300 million a year is nothing and the Seminole’s know it. When is it ok for one group of people to oppress the citizens who voted for slots in their respective counties? It shouldn’t be ok ever!! The seminoles are crooks!!!

    • Eric Keaton

      March 2, 2018 at 1:56 am

      It wasn’t the Seminole who outlawed slots outside of Broward or Dade.. You have Galvano to thank for that. The Seminole aren’t obligated to pay a dime to the state if one slot machine is legal anywhere in florida. The ‘Tribe’ is like a whole other nation within the state of florida. But since Florida can’t keep up the their side of the bargain – The Seminole sue the dog sh’t out of florida and Florida has always lost and the Tax Paying Citizens foot the bills. Florida Lawmakers are to blame for this reaming that doesn’t end… #VotersInCharge #FreeChainGangCharlie – Charlie Crist Florida needs you.

    • Eric Keaton

      March 2, 2018 at 2:13 am

      ..if you wanna get technical – The Seminole do not own any gambling monopoly in the state of Florida – so its not illegal – their casinos are on ‘Seminole Land’

      this ought to blow your mind – Marijuana is now legal on ‘Seminole Land’ – Thank Obama – Marijuana is legal on all native american ‘land’ .

  • Eric Keaton

    March 2, 2018 at 1:46 am

    Can Galvano be such a sadist.. In the original compact negotiated by yours truly.. lol.. you seemed to have forgotten to add a safe.word. At this point in the game – Violating that Compact is akin to demanding a gag ball in tandem with foregoing lubrication.. Good luck Florida – Taking another one for the eh.?

    • Eric Keaton

      March 2, 2018 at 2:06 am


Comments are closed.


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